Dissertation abstract: The experimental analysis of the political economics of fisheries governance
This dissertation focuses on the political economy of fisheries governance. The study develops a formal model of fisheries governance by combining the features of the common pool fishery and the political institution of lobbying; designs a laboratory fishery governance institution and conducts economic experiments to test the hypotheses derived from the formal model. Specifically, the study analyzes how fishing firms invest in efforts to influence fishery regulation and management through voluntary contribution lobbying. The study also analyses and compares contribution and effort behavior in the lobbying and the CPR using data from economic experiments. The results indicate that lobbying to change suboptimal fishery regulations was significantly below the subgame perfect equilibrium prediction and contributions to raise the cap were significantly different than contributions to lower the cap toward the social optimum. Study results show that subjects successfully lobbied to raise inefficiently low fishing quotas, but were unable to lobby to reduce inefficiently high fishing quotas. Detailed analysis of subjects’ contribution and effort behavior suggest that despite the interesting benefit-cost duality between pure public goods and CPRs, the pattern of cooperative behavior in these two social dilemma situations was different and the level of cooperation in the voluntary contribution lobbying experiment was lower than those reported in other public goods experiments. To provide external validity to these experimental findings, the study further analyzes and compares lobbying expenditures in the fishery sector with those in other natural resource industries using field data from the United States. A comparison of actual lobbying expenditures as percentage of valued added shows that lobbying effort in the U.S fishery sector is not significantly different than those in other natural resource industries such as mining and electric utility industries, but the pattern of lobbying is different. Whereas fishing firms lobby through associations or pressure groups, firms in other natural resource industries lobby unilaterally. This observation suggests that differences in industrial structure and incentives influence the pattern of lobbying and the lobbying behavior of firms across industries. The theoretical predictions derived from the formal model of fisheries governance are consistent with our experimental findings and with the field data on lobbying in the US fisheries sector. These findings suggest that heterogeneity drives rent-seeking activities in the US fisheries sector and that fishing firms attempt to circumvent political collective action problems by forming and lobbying through associations of stakeholders with relatively homogenous policy preferences. Copyright Economic Science Association 2007
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